N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 8 20:53:52 UTC 1998

H. M. Hubey wrote:
> What is Tirukkural?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to
introduce TirukkuRaL (ca. 4th-5th century A.D.).
It has been dear to Tamils ever since its
creation called as Tamil Veda.  TirukkuRaL means
Sacred Couplets. It is very secular in its outlook.
In its third section on "pleasure", it is
most poetic. The reason is that Sangam
classical love poetry traditions are still strong
here. Leo Tolstoy writes about Kural in his
'Letter to the Hindus'.

    "The maxims of Valluvar has touched my soul"
                         - Mahatma Gandhi

    "With sure strokes, the Kural draws the idea
     of simple ethical humanity. There hardly exists
     in literature of the world, a collection of
     maxims in which we find so much wisdom"
                         - Albert Schweitzer

    "Kural has entered into the very soul of a
     whole people. It proclaims in sweetest mystic
     couplets virtue, truth, wealth and joy"
                         - G. U. Pope

> From 17th century translation into Latin, numerous
attempts exist. For example,
1) P. S. Sundaram, The Kural, Penguin, 1990
For an authentic translation:
2) K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, The Kural: lights
of the righteous life, M. P. Birla foundation, 1988

   Aiyangar writes:
   "The Kural is like no other book that India has produced
    in any of her languages. It is a gloriously life-affirming
    document. Valluvar openly says that there is no good life
    possible without material prosperity, and proserity is
    no use if it is not used well. Secular in his conception,
    like Confucius, not bothered about gods, with his eye
    on righteous human conduct, full of compassion and love
    for humankind, Tiruvalluvar, the author, has produced
    in his Tirukkural, a small masterpiece of pragmatic
    righteousness. Some of the kurals are interpretable
    in more ways than one. Most say the things they want to
    say in a direct manner, in a way that cannot be mistaken.
    The words fall like hammer strokes drving a nail into
    hardwood or stone. There are many persons who know
    the Kural by heart but few manage to live by the
    Kural, thereby defeating the very purpose for which
    it is written. It is a wise book, this Tirukkural
    of the Tamils, with a sagacity at once useful and practicable.
    Tiruvalluvar never lets you down - is the experience of
    all who read him."

N. Ganesan

Regarding Indian and Mediterranian cultural mileau,
I am interested in learning about the Science News
and Science article. Bull-baiting was famous in Mycenean art,
Indus seals, and Tamil sangam poetry.
Indus valley was a bronze age civilization.
As far as bronzes go in India, the Chola masterpieces
are justly famous.

   "The Tamils left brilliant legacies in poetry, painting
    and sculpture. But their finest creations were in
    bronze. Among their masterpieces is the image os Siva,
    cast in one piece in 1011 A.D., full four hundred
    years before Donatello in Florence. There had been
    nothing like it since the ancient Greeks."
                     - Michael Grant, World civilizations, 1991.

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